Johnny Moore asks Stuart Watson from the Ipswich Star to run the rule over the Tractor Boys
Q: Has the appointment of Paul Cook as manager breathed new life into Ipswich?
A: The results have been mixed since he took charge, but he has been a breath of fresh air. Fans are excited about his record when it comes to promotions and have really bought into his enthusiasm and humour.
Whether he can have a short-term impact remains to be seen. Many are already looking towards the prospect of a summer rebuild.
Q: Was the mid-season slump all down to former boss Paul Lambert or were there other factors?
A: There were a lot of key injuries – to the likes of James Norwood, Flynn Downes, Teddy Bishop and Gwion Edwards – and had it been Lambert’s first season in charge, then there would have been a lot more sympathy for that.
It wasn’t his first season, though. He’d overseen a limp relegation, then Ipswich were in long-term relegation battling form when the 2019/20 season was curtailed (finishing 11th).
Things were going a similar way this season too. Lambert’s right when he says certain structures at the club are wrong, but the bottom line was he simply wasn’t getting the best out of the squad at his disposal.
Q: Never mind the manager, do Ipswich have a team capable of getting over the line this season?
A: Good question! My gut feeling is there’s enough quality in the squad to make the play-offs given that, after today, eight of the last 11 games are against teams currently in the bottom third of the table.
It’s hard, right now, to see Ipswich being able to win a two-legged play-off tie, though. For some time now, the team has always fallen short on the big occasions.
The record against the leading sides since dropping into League One has been abysmal. And they simply just don’t score enough goals.
The recent dreadful displays against Gillingham and Fleetwood suggest Cook’s got a big job on his hands to change the culture of the club.
Q: Who are the in-form players likely to pose Pompey problems this afternoon?
A: The fact that two names aren't immediately jumping off the page for me says a lot!
I’d say all-action midfielder Flynn Downes and striker James Norwood are the squad’s two most influential players when fit and firing – they bring a competitive edge – but both have had injury problems. Downes is out today and Norwood’s a doubt.
Winger Gwion Edwards started the season on fire, scoring plenty, but has gone back to be consistently inconsistent. Andre Dozzell, a player with a superb range of passing, has had highs, but looks to have faded slightly after playing virtually every game.
Alan Judge underwhelmed for a long time, but has arguably been the pick of the players since the turn of the year. I’d say centre-back James Wilson probably edges it. He’s a reliable, no-nonsense defender.
Q: Having suffered two defeats against Pompey this season, will we a rejuvenated Ipswich at Fratton Park today?
A: I really don’t know. Worryingly, there#s been little sign of a new manager bounce so far. A really impressive first 20 minutes against Plymouth aside, the same deficiencies have been in evidence.
There should be a response following Tuesday night’s awful display (Cook joked that the cleaners had a chance of playing in this one). It was a long journey back from Fleetwood though.